Digital consolidation helps The Wine Collective thrive during lockdown

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Digital consolidation helps The Wine Collective thrive during lockdown

Overcomes cloud transformation headaches.

Online wine merchant The Wine Collective’s investment in unifying its digital platforms has delivered just in time as nationwide lockdowns drive up online sales and cause a flurry of plonk purchasing.

The Wine Collective (TWC) was born in late 2017 following the merger of The Wine Society and the Online Liquor Group, and currently has 400,000 customers.

Each company in the lead up to the merger went on its own journey of shifting their on-premises applications to NetSuite’s cloud for order and inventory management and the creation of a more agile foundation for the new business.

However, the marriage of those systems proved to be less seamless than the company had hoped for and meant TWC couldn’t take advantage of new cloud-based offerings it was paying for, according to integrations architect Iris Tan.

“Although our transition to the cloud gave us a range of new, best-of-breed tools to work with, the integrations responsible for making them communicate weren’t suitable for our digital business,” Tan said.

“This caused several headaches.

“We had an instance where inventory from two big-brand sites wasn’t updating in real-time, resulting in ‘out-of-stock’ situations and annoyed shoppers.”

Additionally, developing integrations that would enable the rollout of new services would take months, diverting TWC’s team from higher value projects such as building a capability to deliver tailored suggestions to customers.

Personalisation is highly sought after in the liquor industry, enabling retailers to better understand their customers’ tastes and more successfully upsell them on products they’ll like.

Woolworths subsidiary Endeavour Drinks has invested heavily in such areas, and even gotten in contact with Spotify and Netflix to understand how their recommendation engines could be applied to the industry.

For TWC, the solution to personalisation and smoother integration has been the introduction of Dell Boomi to better manage data flows and integrations by using Boomi’s out-of-the-box connectors for platforms like NetSuite and Shopify.

“Boomi has helped us connect our operations so we have visibility and control over our data so we can operate more efficiently, and establish a 360-degree view of our customers and their favourite products,” Tan said.

In other projects, TWC is connecting directly with wineries for drop-shipping directly to customers by partnering with new shipping providers, giving customers more choices about how and when they receive their wine.

It represents a significant improvement over TWC’s previous backend operations for orders, where areas like warehousing and shipping were slowed down by manual data processes.

Moving order data between NetSuite and third-party shippers like Australia Post meant manual data imports and exports by the IT team. Meanwhile, customers couldn't receive real-time order status.

Connecting NetSuite with Shopify and the Australia Post application has automated order management, warehousing, and shipping processes that were time-consuming and error-prone.

Tan told iTnews these problems were resolved before the recent spate of panic buying.

“We've seen a dramatic increase in sales over the last few weeks not only from existing but from new customers,” she said.

“It is more important now than ever to demonstrate that we offer a seamless customer experience from choosing their wines, purchasing and getting their wine to their doorstep.

“With the recent work done with Boomi, it meant that internally, we no longer need to worry about out of sync data or scalability. The team is focused on choosing the best offers for our customers and the warehouse team is focused on getting those boxes out the door the same day.”

It’s also helped TWC turn the situation into a positive for potential new suppliers.

“With the recent events of COVID-19, the importance of being able to sell your products online is evident and as a result we've had a large number of suppliers wanting to work with us.”

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